Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Looking back at Christmas...

Christmas was one month ago and in this month I have definitely focused on something else than putting a summary of what our family has received as present from Santa Claus.
One letter for each of us
 The one that had most expectations over Christmas was of course Isabella. For her the most important word was GOLD. For four months she had been asking and longing for some golden shoes.
The golden shoes
A golden shower cap
She got also some golden gairment, in the specific some leggings, a sweater and some t-shirts and some extra golden item, like a shower cap and even some tape.
Additionally, also Uaua got a golden present specifically prepared for him/her.
Uaua dressed in gold. He looks like the Pope!
If we exclude the Barbies, Isabella made jackpot with a lot of books (one in specific about space and planets), a stickers book, stencils, colors, socks, a pair of ladybug wings, and a couple of interesting games.

Ladybug wings

Plenty of colors of all kinds for her artistic moments

A hand embroidered turtle for Isabella
Two of the games I can highlight are very interesting.
The first one is a very simple roll-the-die game, which quickly has become Isabella's favourite. The mechanism is very simple (one roll the die and move the characters on the board in base on the color of the die), but can become quite exciting thanks to the "amulets" which appear as one side of the die and can bring the characters back and forth on the path. A game can be as quick as 2 minutes as long as half an hour...
The Palace Game
The second is an interactive game which makes use of the TipToi pen. TipToi is a pen which makes a book or a board game interactive. Isabella got for her birthday a book about farm and farming and she enjoyed quite much the possibilities given by the device (although, possibly she will do it even more when growing up). 
The Monster Music School is even more interactive and provide a great learning base, with the possibility to compete with other players. I realize she will end up playing this only with the few italian friends she has or us, but for me it is totally worthy. The game was actually very well done!
The Monster Music School
Also Oscar appreciated his first Christmas and Santa Claus with the presents. Also for him there were books, some clothes, socks, some nice woods toys and a beautiful lamp (which unfortunately is still in Italy for lack of space on our way back - I will post something on it when we will get it here!). 
He also got a big pillow-blanket, which I have promptly used to lift him up when he has a cold (basically all the time ;-)).
A cat team for Oscar's pillow
 If we exclude the gardening books, I have got a very beautiful lined notebook with a wonderful Mucha cover (Emerald), which I am sure I will make good use for when my Moleskin will be full with notes about Åkarp.
Paperblanks Mucha Emerald Slim
 It was by my request, but ended up being a good present for Mattias as well (who otherwise got a sweater) a fantastic Bluetooth portable speaker:Bose Soundlink Mini. The sound quality is just great and it is very practical to have the possibility to connect any device of ours to it and just carry the speaker around (and not a laptop or a lousy phone). I have tested today and it is possible to have the laptop downstairs while the speaker is upstairs. The sound quality is not always perfect then, but still good enough for accompanying chores.
A strong recommendation for anyone looking for such a device!
Our cute "retro styled" speaker
I have also asked for a system camera (I'd hope that would improve the quality of my fantastic blog photos), but Santa didn't bring it... maybe I didn't behave that good last year, afterall? :)

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Saturday, January 24, 2015

I have 1 year!

Few weeks ago (exactly 16 days ago), Oscar celebrated his first birthday.

A little train for the party boy
Since we are sure he is not going to reflect too much over this day right now, we have kept the celebration very intimate, having just one of our neighbours over for something very improvised.
For the occasion, I prepared two batches of muffin: one with chocolate and one with blueberry. The first ones looked also good, the second collapsed although the taste was good.
I have of course forgotten to take a proper picture of the masterpiece!

Preparation for the muffins
Isabella and all of us tried to make his day as...normal as possible, except for the fact that due to the celebration he didn't took his afternoon nap.
It seemed very surreal to celebrate him since time has flied in some strange way (possibly all through the roof) and it seems yesterday, when the fight with the logistic of having two kids started.
But it is amazing to see him growing and learning new things and expressing his will. At least, now, we can finally understand what he wants to eat from the table :)

His presents
Despite our intentions, he still put together few presents, a couple of books that he is actually liking quite much (differently from Isabella's time, reading with him is a rare occasion :-/), a small Duplo set (that is shared wisely with Isabella) and a sweater knitted by farmor (which is similar to the one owned by his cousin born 3 weeks later).

After Oscar's birthday and the birthday parties of the last week, Isabella is already planning her next birthday party...
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Friday, January 23, 2015

Vintage Barbie

We have noticed Isabella's interest for playing with dolls and dollhouses. She is not for big dolls, but small ones with small things to dress/undress/torture seems to do the trick.
It's good that Santa Claus is very wise and went and took some of my old Barbie items and pack it as Christmas present for her.
The pity was that among the items there was the City house. A four store building with an elevator which, although dismounted, refused to fit into any of our luggage (damn 5 cm too many!) forcing us to prepare a big package to send instead while we were travelling back home.
Of course, we took advantage of the package to fill in the box with manga comics and all sort of amenities...

She was longing very much for the house (the dolls travelled more safely with us, instead) and when it came we had definitely to prioritize mounting it.
We found a good spot in our veranda, creating a barrier from monsters (Oscar) and although it is a very temporary position, it seems it is the right one for this period where she is not yet playing by herself without us being "around" (which means in another room, but still nearby).

The 80s townhouse
The furniture is the original with some addition. Isabella promptly made a bed with paper for one of the Barbies (which is now located in the bathroom), and there is some extra living room set coming from the 70s for some other doll.

She didn't get all the Barbies I had (hence, she will have plenty with the time being, so hopefully noone will have the brilliant ideas to buy more accessories, dolls, clothes or whatever since I had plenty), but few ones. Tropical Ken, Malibu Barbie, Suncharm Barbie, Superstar Barbie, a dog and a horse (Prancer). One of the dolls is a Tanya, an italian copy of Barbie, which we have named Viola having lilac eyes and hair (and dress..)

Tropical Ken
My first Barbie Malibu
Suncharm Barbie
Superstar Barbie
The dog
The Horse
Unfortunately, despite me keeping things quite in good shape when playing with them 30 years ago, some plastic details has failed the age. They became brittle. Same destiny to some clothes which had to be adjusted since they were falling literally apart. 
Also the colors of clothes and furniture has slightly changed, thanks to the sun and the age.

Barbie Luxury Beauty Center

Barbie Luxury Bath

Although she hasn't yet got the manuality for changing the clothes herself, she is really enjoying playing (and we enjoying watching her playing). I hope everything will survive at least 10 years more., or maybe 20, then we can celebrate 50 years of this stuff ;-)
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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Thermae Romae by Mari Yamazaki

Thermae Romae VIThermae Romae VI by Mari Yamazaki
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The idea behind this manga is just quite absurd, but when one read the six volumes, one can't complain about it. Infact, it is for that reason that the story and the characters are just funny and it is a pleasure to read something that could have become deadly boring if written in the wrong way.
Lucius Modestus is definitely too serious and too humble of his own good, but possibly for his devotion to Rome and its empire, he ends up having an incredible role in its development.
He ends up travelling both in time and space reaching modern Japan and discovering incredible things that could improve the experience in the thermae.
I think it makes sense that a Roman citizen who is interested in thermae would end up in a modern Japan where still there is a strong culture around bathing.
The comparison becomes also quite hilarious, although I think the real reaction of a Roman observing our life would be much stronger than Lucius'.
The first two volumes are a bit mechanic and could be described as a collection of short stories with the same pattern. Lucius is troubled, he ends up bathing, while bathing something happens for which he finds himself in Japan. He explores the environment there and he brings back to Rome some new ideas which would be considered revolutionary.
The last two - three volumes instead are difference since Lucius is stuck in Japan and we can see how his life is there and who he meets. The story becomes a bit more interesting and less ripetitive.
Still, everything is described in a very humoristic way, but pity enough there is a lack of explanation on certain events (why can Lucius travel time-space wise?) and there is no big character's development.
Surely, what strucked me the most were the drawings, the care for the details and the historical accuracy. It is an impressive work and it is also very pleasant to read the author's comments between a chapter and another.
Now, it is time to watch the two movies where Lucius is the protagonist!

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Tales of Symphonia, by Hitoshi Ichimura

Tales Of Symphonia: Extra LoadTales Of Symphonia: Extra Load by Hitoshi Ichimura
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I haven't been playing the role playing game, neither the videogames. Without background, I find myself reading a fantasy manga which is drawn in a neat and classical style.
The story is pleasant enough but weak in few spots. Luckily, it doesn't become mechanic and losing the tempo in ripetitive details which would characterize the mission the characters are involved into. However, the rythm is not always constant and there are moments where the story is slightly aground.
What I enjoyed the least where the characters. No one of them turned out to be a revolutionary surprise and no one of them did develop in some unexpected manner.
But possibly, the fact that the setting is surely not Tolkien's word doesn't help the characters to acquire a needed depth.
The final chapter of the story could have been more conclusive. The "Extra load" volume could have been left unwritten, or if needed, it should have actually helped out in filling the missing story parts if written in a more considerate way: it seems the author didn't want to write it and was in hurry to get rid of it.

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